SLIPPERY ROCK — Gabby Douglas, Olympic gold medalist, grew up looking up to gymnasts like Carly Patterson and as an adult has gotten to rub elbows with celebrities like Beyonce, Drake and Tom Brady.
But Douglas didn't hesitate when asked Thursday night who her hero is.
“My mom. She has always been a fighter. She has always taught me to keep fighting,” she said.
Douglas, 21, participated in a moderated discussion inside the packed Smith Student Center Ballroom at Slippery Rock University.
Her visit was hosted by SRU's University Program Board, which brought Douglas to campus after students named her as a top pick to speak on campus in a poll.
She talked with SRU professor Nick Artman before the program was opened up to questions from the audience, which included SRU students and many young gymnasts.
Although she said she is taking a break from gymnastics, Douglas is one of the most famous and most decorated gymnasts in the United States.
At the 2012 Olympic Games in London, she became the first person of African descent to win the individual all-around champion at the Olympics. She also became the first American gymnast to win gold in both the all-around and team competitions in 2012. She made the U.S. team again in 2016 and won another gold medal at the games in Rio de Janerio.
Despite breaking bones and missing some competitions during her career, she tried to stay positive and persevere.
“The number one pressure is always to be perfect. Gymnastics is about muscle memory and you have to do it over and over again,” she said. “It takes a lot of mental strength, because you're bound to mess up. You're human.”
A full story appears in Friday's Butler Eagle.